By JC Ryan
You've always wanted to start your own business, and you know it will take self-discipline, focus, and determination. You also know that you must wear multiple hats—business owner, office manager, marketing director, administrator, financial officer, and creative director. You have your office space dedicated and stocked, and you're ready to roll. One thing—one little, bitty detail—is holding you back: just what is it that you're going to sell?
Sit down with pen and paper. Let your thoughts have free reign and avoid editing yourself. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind when you ask yourself what you like to do, what interests you, and how you like to fill your time. When there's absolutely nothing else that comes to mind, put that list away and take a break.
Then sit back down again and make a different list. Write down anything and everything that you don't like, how you loathe to spend your time, what you absolutely will not tolerate. When nothing else comes to mind, put that list away and take a break.
Take the first list and determine what the top ten things you like on it are. Take the second list and determine the top ten things you dislike are. Small businesses, especially home-based businesses stand a far greater chance of succeeding if the focus—the niche—involves something about which the business owner is passionate. By prioritizing the likes and dislikes lists, you are narrowing down your niche in the home business world.
Before determining the exact nature of your business and what your product or product line will include, determine if there's a market for it. Creating the best, most efficient, tastiest, fastest, smallest, largest, lightest, or heaviest imaginary business widget in the world will do no good whatsoever unless there is a demand for it.
Whether you want a local business or potentially an international one, use the Internet to help determine whether a market exists for your product. The easiest way to do that is to conduct keyword research. If people are using search terms that relate to your area of expertise, there's probably a market.
Take your prioritized likes list and for each top ten entry, write down every search word and phrase that comes to mind regarding each entry. You're identifying your keyword research data.
Google AdWords is one of the most comprehensive keyword research tools available on the Internet. Not only is Google the largest search engine but it is also global in its reach. In the keyword entry window, enter your series of search words and phrases—including singular, plural, correctly spelled and commonly misspelled versions—for the first priority like entry on your list.
Note how many times those words or phrases have been entered to the world's largest search engine. Note the numbers. Conduct market existence indicators for each top ten entry following the same steps. Note additional keywords or phrases that people use.
You still haven't determined whether there is actually a market for your product idea. You've merely determined interest. You must ascertain if people are just reading related material or if they are actually buying something.
Now enter into a search window the keywords discovered or confirmed and review the top web pages—not websites but pages—that are displayed on the search engine results pages or SERPs. Review the top 20 entries. Are there multiples pages from the same domain name? Are they blogs? Are known commercial sites such as Amazon.com and eBay.com noted? How many newsletters or e-zines are there related to your target market? How big are those email lists?
If you determine that there is solid and consistent interest in your product idea based on your interest list and people sharing the same interest are spending money within that area, you've identified a potential market.
Unique Selling Position:
What is different about your product, your approach or your planned technique that sets you apart from the rest of the wholesalers or retailers out there? What is your unique selling position (USP)?
A USP can be a patented procedure or a price range. It could be always free delivery or a special recipe passed from generation to generation. It's your unique mark in the market. Determine your USP, and you have your product launch point.
Too many people put the cart before the horse when starting a home-based business. They don't go with their long-term strengths, and they don't make sure they'll have a fair chance at selling their product idea before investing any money into the business. Give your enterprise a solid launch platform with extensive, exhaustive product market research before you attempt to sell your product.
Then keep working at making your first business sale, because when you make one sell, you can sell again with proper research, advertising, and attention. Consider each sale you make the very first one to keep yourself hungry for more.
JC Ryan is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if online universities are right for them and helps them understand which online colleges and online courses they can choose from to reach their goals.
Make sure to check out our Finding Your Niche Resource Page for more information.